Customer loyalty is something that's always really interested me – as both a business owner and a consumer myself. We have so much choice now, where's the incentive to stick with one brand or product?
But with 82% of companies agreeing that retention is cheaper to execute than acquisition1 , it surely makes sense for businesses to invest some time into thinking how they can make sure their customers keep coming back?
Here are a few ideas on easy to execute ways that companies can inspire customer loyalty.
1. Give them good service
I'll start with the most obvious point – if you give customers good service, they're more likely to return - I know I am. Personally, even if I really like a product I won't buy from a brand again if the people I had to deal with are rude, inattentive or unhelpful.
2. Reward them
I find it really strange that some companies are so focused on signing up new customers that they don't reward their existing ones. When I was looking for a new cellphone, I couldn't access the best deals with my current supplier as they were for new customers only, so I took my business elsewhere even though I had previously been happy. Madness.
I love customer loyalty programs where you can build up points and get rewards. I never go anywhere without my Boloco card in my wallet – and the fact I'm working my way towards a free super jumbo burrito means I'm always likely to pick up my lunch there rather than somewhere else. I think the reason Boloco's program works so well is that it's an actual reward – you can choose anything off the menu rather than getting something you might not actually want.
And while Boloco makes full use of technology (customers swipe their card to pick up points) your loyalty program doesn't have to be complicated – a simple cardboard loyalty card that you ink stamp after each purchase is a good starting point.
3. Go above and beyond
If you're in a competitive market the chances are you'll have to offer your customers a little something extra to inspire their loyalty. This can be in a structured way – for example, offering freebies or helping them learn something new – or a bit more spontaneous. Personally I think the latter is more effective as it shows you are really willing to put yourself out for your customers. I read a story about how Dominos had created a special Pokémon-themed pizza for a young Pokémon Go obsessed customer – he'll probably never go to Pizza Hut or Papa Johns again.
4. Engage with customers
Communicating and engaging with customers is one of the easiest ways to make them feel valued and stay loyal to you. And thanks to social media and email marketing, it's never been easier. I like to get in touch with my clients regularly, whether it's to say thanks, or ask for their opinions on my products and services.
Social media is also an awesome way of staying connected with your customers; it's a really quick way to reply to any questions they may ask, resolve any issues, or surprise them by going above and beyond when they're not expecting it. It's amazing what you can find out through these small interactions and how it can help you shape your business into one they want to use again and again.
5. Be surprising
Keeping your customers on their toes is important. After all, if they don't know what you're going to do next, they'll have to keep tabs on you. Popping an unexpected freebie in the post, inviting a valued client to an event you know they'd love, using social media to respond or just buying them their favorite coffee ahead of a meeting can have a huge impact. My gym recently sent me a "happy birthday" email with a complimentary training session. Unexpected, appreciated and for them, a really simple thing to do.
This ties into engaging with your customers. More than ever, it's just not enough to ask questions and make contact – you have to really listen to what your customers say, good and bad, and show that you've taken it on board. One of my longest standing clients is someone who I got off to a bit of a rocky start with. But after listening to his concerns, and making changes as needed, we got things back on track. And now he keeps coming back because he knows he's going to get the service he quite rightly expects.
7. Keep your promises
If you're not reliable then customers will more than likely take their business elsewhere. In my experience basic things like honoring price guarantees, getting in touch when you say you will, and hitting deadlines help build a solid customer base. It sounds obvious but I've lost count of the number of companies who don't do what they say when they say they will do it.
8. Give them options
Customers' needs change and even if you're doing everything right they'll be forced to look elsewhere if your offering doesn't change with them. It's hard work, but the only real way to achieve this is to keep on top of industry developments and put in the hours developing new products and services, or tweaking your existing ones. It's well worth it in the long run though.
1.www.econsultancy.com/blog/65872-15-fascinating-insights-from-econsultancy-s-2014-reports. 15 fascinating insights from Econsultancy's 2014 reports. Accessed August 19, 2016
Any sites I mention or link to in this post are just examples that I thought you'd find useful – I don't endorse them or their services. I have no affiliation with them and make no representation about their services.